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In the oldest stories, a snake eats its tail,   a savage peeks his head out of a socket

of ruin, a boat returns with no crew,   and death makes us back into ether.

There seems no room for other versions.   A couple in the middle of rush hour

step out of their car and leap off a bridge,   only to hit a catwalk a few feet below.

And in the abrupt joy, when they crack   a heap of ribs, dodge the arc of tragedy,

they turn, laugh, then nudge each other   over the side. This time they congrue.

They become what we expect. Love,   shouldn’t we achieve a thing as clean?

In our garden of unfinished beds,   half-believing the half-empty,

it looks like we’re falling together;   it looks like we’re treading water. [End Page 17]

James Hoch

James Hoch’s poems have appeared in the Washington Post, American Poetry Review, Slate, Kenyon Review, New England Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. His most recent book is Miscreants (W. W. Norton, 2007). He resides with his wife and sons in Garrison, New York, and teaches at Ramapo College of New Jersey and Sarah Lawrence College.



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